No one reason for RQHR high workplace violence numbers, says CEO

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The Regina Qu'Appelle Health Region says there are a number of reasons behind a spike in workplace violence numbers.

According to the health region's weekly newsletter, there were 535 violent incidents in 2016-17. That's an increase of 74 per cent from the previous year.

While a hospital union blamed inadequate staffing, the health region said there were multiple factors behind the jump.

"It's probably due to many things," said CEO Keith Dewar. "Some would say it's the social environment that we have and some of the conditions we see outside, like addictions and mental health issues."

Dewar said that the violent incidents happen across a wide variety of conditions — everywhere from emergency waiting rooms to long-term care homes, where the bulk of the violence directed at staff happens.

He said it's a priority for the health region to teach staff verbal de-escalation strategies: to defuse situations before they become problematic.

"In the long-term care facilities, we've gone through a general persuasion approach," he said. "It teaches people how to interact with a resident that may be acting a bit differently."

Dewar said the health region is going through a wider strategy to decrease workplace accidents, which includes violence against staff.

He said there is a greater emphasis on getting staff to report incidents, which may have bumped up the violence numbers.